Russian River Valley News

Russian River Valley News
Prepare for Emergencies

By Vesta Copestakes
January 2024
This column has been reprinted with the permission of Neighbors of the Russian River Valley.*

If the predicted weather forecasts for this winter are correct, we’d better be prepared! Last winter caught many people off-guard between flooding and trees down during high wind storms and rain.

Prepare Your Home

If you haven’t had trees trimmed for a while, it’s not too late. Tree services operate all winter and even during intense winter storms. Having a tree fall through your house, or onto your vehicle, leaves more damage than just to your heart and mind. If you already have a favorite tree service, get them out to do an assessment of the health of your trees. They can see things you can’t. Know their emergency # or put it on your refrigerator.

Prepare Yourself

We are well-schooled in having a Go-Bag ready and all our important papers in an easy-to-grab box in case of fire evacuations. If you get your water from a well, having gallons of clean, fresh water stored will get you through a power outage. Candles and flashlights get moved to where they are easily found. We now have USB chargeable flashlights and lanterns that we can charge in our vehicles and off portable power supplies. You may also want to invest in a few marine batteries with a power converter that will run computers and small appliances for short periods of time. SoCo Emergency can be your best resource for information on being prepared and informed in any emergency! 

Evacuation Routes

Having to leave home during a flood is more predictable than fire evacuation when you don’t know which way wind will blow embers and flames. We KNOW where the river flows and at what elevations it starts impacting our ability to get in and out. Know your Zone – Sonoma County Evacuation Zones Maps is a useful Sonoma County website to find your Evacuation Zone as well as which roads to take. Just plug in your street address:

SoCoFire also has information that stays current throughout emergencies.

And remember that if you have to evacuate, Sonoma County Animal Services can feed animals left at home if you can’t take them with you. Feral cats, large animals who are high enough out of flood zones, etc. can be visited by this very helpful service to feed and water while you are gone: (707) 565-7100,

Your Vehicle

After a hot summer one of the more important tasks to perform are changing your windshield wiper blades. Get it done BEFORE heavy rain makes it hard to see where you are driving. Keep your gas tank above ½ full at all times because you never know when you will need to drive farther than the nearest gas station to fill up, and gas lines are often long during emergencies. Check your tires for good tread because wet roads can be slippery and often water is running across pavement which makes it challenging for tires to grip the road.

Reflective Address Signs

Yes, this is  important because IF you have an emergency of any kind, emergency services need to be able to easily find you. In the dark, in heavy rain, or heavy smoke, address signs that emergency services can easily see could save your life. SoCo Fire sells them for $25 each on their website:

Who to Call for Help

911 will dispatch you to emergency services, but not all issues require immediate response. This is the # for non-emergencies 707-565-2121. If you are on the ROAD call California Highway Patrol (CHP) at 1-800-TELL-CHP (1-800-835-5247) 24/7. The County also has an INFORMATION service that you can access by dialing 211 – or text your Zip Code to 898-211 on your cell phone. 

Sonoma County Public Infrastructure has a web page that shows all closed roads: This is vital during heavy rain. You really don’t  want to get stuck. Because it takes time to put up Road Closed signs throughout our vast county, if you see water on the road – take their advice “Turn Around – Don’t Drown.”


* River Valley News column will be published in the December 2023 Neighbors of the Russian River Valley (Best Version Media), a monthly magazine distributed to neighbors in the Russian River Valley. Reprinted with permission. For more info, go to their Facebook page, here.

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